National Park Service Birthday: Free Admission

August 21, 2014 by  
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Happy birthday to the National Park Service, and happy free admission to us all…

The National Park Service celebrates its 98th anniversary on August 25, 2014 and we can all share the celebration. On that birthday date, admission is free to National Parks that usually charge an entry fee.

On the fee-free day, Monday August 25, you can enter every one of the country’s 400+ national parks for free – and we’ve got plenty to choose from in New Mexico!

It’s a great opportunity to explore without paying a cent. It’s also a good excuse to plan a day trip to visit a park you don’t know yet, or return to an old favorite, with options from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite.

The New Mexico National Parks with free admission on August 25 include:

Wherever you’re going, check the links above for current conditions at the park in case they have any special weather or other park alerts or info you need to know. Some parks may also have free events. For example,White Sands National Monument offers daily patio talks with a park ranger. White Sands also hosts a daily sunset stroll – a one-hour walk through the sand dunes, guided by a ranger.

Albuquerque’s own Petroglyph National Monument is always free to enter (with a nominal parking fee at Boca Negra Canyon). Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is always free too.

–Tania


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National Park Week Free Admission: April 19-20

March 27, 2014 by  
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If you’re ready to step into spring and get into the Great American Outdoors then plan ahead for National Park Week 2014.

Usually during National Park Week we get free access to parks for the whole week. This year they seem to be cutting back, as the free admission to parks is only on the opening weekend: April 19-20.

Still, those fee-free days means you can enter every one of the country’s 400+ national parks for free – and we’ve got plenty to choose from in New Mexico!

During the Free National Park Days  from on Saturday April 19 and Sunday April 20, 2014,  all national parks that usually charge for entry waive the admission fee and you can explore without paying a cent. It’s a good excuse to plan a day trip to visit a park you don’t know yet, or return to an old favorite, with options from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite.

The New Mexico National Parks with free admission on April 19-20 include:

Wherever you’re going, check the links above for current conditions at the park in case they have any special weather or other park alerts or info you need to know, and some may have free events

Albuquerque’s own Petroglyph National Monument is always free to enter (with a nominal parking fee at Boca Negra Canyon). Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is always free too.

–Tania

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Free Sandia Mountain Natural History Center Geology of the Sandias

August 2, 2013 by  
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The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is usually closed to the public, but on the first Sunday of each summer month until October 2013 the center runs a series of open days. Visitors have free access to explore, hike, take in the scenery, try geocaching and enjoy the monthly themed activity or presentation.

That means the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center in Cedar Crest is open to all this Sunday August 4, 2013, from 9 am to 4 pm, and admission is free. The next open and free dates are September 1 and October 6.

Usually the 128 acre piñon-juniper forest with over 5 miles of walking trails is only open to school groups, but this Sunday anybody can turn up to hike, spot wildlife from the observation deck and bird blind, do geocaching, or even take a picnic.

At 10 am  on August 4, there will be a presentation on Geology of the Sandias. I went to one of their recent presentations and it was very interesting, then I traipsed around the trails with Mr Cheap. It’s a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the land – and it’s always a little cooler up in the East Mountains!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center open day:

  • When: Sunday August 4, 2013
  • Time: 9 am – 4 pm. Presentation at 10 am. No registration required to visit.
  • Where: Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, Cedar Crest
  • Price: Admission is free!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is located at 60 Columbine Lane, Cedar Crest. Take exit 175 from
I-40 East, along NM 14 / The Turquoise Trail. Get directions to the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

–Tania

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Free Sandia Mountain Natural History Center Wildflowers of the Sandias

May 31, 2013 by  
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The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is usually closed to the public, but on the first Sunday of each summer month until October 2013 the center runs a series of open days. Visitors have free access to explore, hike, take in the scenery, try geocaching and enjoy the monthly themed activity or presentation.

That means the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center in Cedar Crest is open to all this Sunday June 2, 2013, from 9 am to 4 pm, and admission is free.

Usually the 128 acre piñon-juniper forest with over 5 miles of walking trails is only open to school groups, but this Sunday anybody can turn up to hike, spot wildlife from the observation deck and bird blind, do geocaching, or even take a picnic.

At 10 am  on June 2, there will be a presentation on Wild Flowers of the Sandias. I went to one of their recent presentations and it was very interesting, then I traipsed around the trails with Mr Cheap. It’s a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the land – and it’s always a little cooler up in the East Mountains!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center open day:

  • When: Sunday June 2, 2013
  • Time: 9 am – 4 pm. Presentation at 10 am. No registration required to visit.
  • Where: Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, Cedar Crest
  • Price: Admission is free!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is located at 60 Columbine Lane, Cedar Crest. Take exit 175 from
I-40 East, along NM 14 / The Turquoise Trail. Get directions to the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

–Tania

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Sandia Mountain BioBlitz 2013

May 14, 2013 by  
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An ecological scavenger hunt for nature and wildlife-lovers, families, and anyone who just enjoys the great outdoors!

The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center BioBlitz 2013 heads to the hills on the evening of Friday May 17 and continues on Saturday May 18, from 7 am to 2 pm.

This free event is basically a back-to-nature scavenger hunt, where participants (you!) join with scientific experts to hunt for as many living organisms as you can. That includes mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, wildflowers, and trees, and each group of participants is led by a science bod while you collect data on the flora and fauna.

It’s a family-friendly event, and kids can join in. They’ll even have a special family activities tent on Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, with bug hunts and track making. You can also see birds from Talking Talons, reptiles from the NM Herpetological Society, and a wild fire engine from New Mexico State Forestry.

There are oodles of guided hikes to choose from. For example, you could join the dusk hike or hikes for birding, wildflowers, or reptiles. Note that hikes are up to 2 miles long, and take 1.5 to 2 hours each. They have a limit of 20 participants per hike, so arrive in good time as it’s first-come, first-served.

See the full BioBlitz schedule for details on what’s happening when.

They suggest you wear sturdy shoes and take all usual gear for outdoor activities (hat, sun protection, water, snacks) and you’re also welcome to take a picnic lunch. Take your own cameras and binoculars and field guides if you have them. Leave your pooch at home as dogs are not permitted on site during BioBlitz.

BioBlitz 2013 runs on Friday May 17 from 4 pm to 7 pm, and on Saturday May 18 from 7 am to 2 pm.

It’s organized in conjunction with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and takes place at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, 60 Columbine Lane, in Cedar Crest. Take exit 175 from I-40 East, along NM 14 / The Turquoise Trail. Full directions to the SMNHC are at the BioBlitz website links above.

–Tania

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National Park Week Free Admission: April 22 – 26

April 17, 2013 by  
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If you missed my previous post  on this, here’s a reminder that during National Park Week 2013 you can enter every one of the country’s 401 national parks for free . We’ve got plenty of choices here in New Mexico!

During Free National Park Week  from Monday April 22 to Friday April 26, 2013,  all national parks that usually charge for entry waive the admission fee and you can explore and get out into the beautiful big country without paying a cent. It’s a good excuse to plan a day trip to visit a park you don’t know yet, or return to an old favorite, with options from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite.

The New Mexico National Parks with free admission from April 22-26, 2013, include:

Wherever you’re going, check the links above for current conditions at the park in case they have any special weather or other park alerts or info you need to know, and some may have free events too.

Albuquerque’s own Petroglyph National Monument is always free to enter (with a nominal parking fee at Boca Negra Canyon). Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is always free too.

–Tania

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National Park Week Free Admission

April 9, 2013 by  
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During National Park Week 2013 you can enter every one of the country’s 401 national parks for free – and we’ve got plenty to choose from in New Mexico!

If you’re ready to step into spring and get into the Great American Outdoors then plan ahead for National Park Week 2013.

During Free National Park Week  from Monday April 22 to Friday April 26, 2013,  all national parks that usually charge for entry waive the admission fee and you can explore without paying a cent. It’s a good excuse to plan a day trip to visit a park you don’t know yet, or return to an old favorite, with options from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite.

The New Mexico National Parks with free admission from April 22-26 include:

Wherever you’re going, check the links above for current conditions at the park in case they have any special weather or other park alerts or info you need to know, and some may have free events

Albuquerque’s own Petroglyph National Monument is always free to enter (with a nominal parking fee at Boca Negra Canyon). Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is always free too.

–Tania

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Free Sandia Mountain NHC Open Day and Bears

April 5, 2013 by  
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I can’t guarantee you’ll see a bear, but you’ll certainly hear about them!

The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is usually closed to the public, but the center has started its 2013 series of monthly summer open days when visitors have free access to explore. On the first Sunday of the month until October you can hike, take in the scenery, do a bit of bird-spotting, try geocaching and the solar telescope, and enjoy the monthly themed activity or presentation.

That means the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center in Cedar Crest is open to all this Sunday April 7, 2013, from 9 am to 4 pm, and admission is free.

There is a presentation on bears at 10 am. I’m really hoping to get to this with Mr Cheap, as I want to find out more about bears. I saw a bear in the wild for the very first time last year… on my birthday! That felt like an extra-special birthday gift, although the poor bear took one look at me and ran away. (And I even had my makeup on.)

Usually the 128 acre piñon-juniper forest with over 5 miles of walking trails is only open to school groups, but this Sunday anybody can turn up to hike, spot wildlife from the observation deck and bird blind, do geocaching, or even take a picnic. During the open day a solar telescope will be available to view the sun.

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center open day:

  • When: Sunday April 7, 2013
  • Time: 9 am – 4 pm. Bear presentation at 10 am. No registration required to visit.
  • Where: Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, Cedar Crest
  • Price: Admission is free!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is located at 60 Columbine Lane, Cedar Crest. Take exit 175 from
I-40 East, along NM 14 / The Turquoise Trail. Get directions to the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

–Tania

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Free Sandia Mountain NHC Open Day

February 26, 2013 by  
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The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is usually closed to the public, but the center is about to start up its 2013 series of monthly summer open days when visitors have free access to explore. On the first Sunday of each month from March to October you can hike, take in the scenery, try geocaching and the solar telescope, and enjoy the monthly themed activity or presentation.

That means the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center in Cedar Crest is open to all this Sunday March 3, 2013, from 9 am to 4 pm, and admission is free.

Usually the 128 acre piñon-juniper forest with over 5 miles of walking trails is only open to school groups, but this Sunday anybody can turn up to hike, spot wildlife from the observation deck and bird blind, do geocaching, or even take a picnic if it’s warm enough. During the open day a solar telescope will be available to view the sun.

They usually have a presentation or activity at 10 am, and according to the SMNHC’s own website, this Sunday it should be a Spring Ecology Hike.  In any case it’s a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the land!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center open day:

  • When: Sunday March 3, 2013
  • Time: 9 am – 4 pm. Presentation at 10 am. No registration required to visit.
  • Where: Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, Cedar Crest
  • Price: Admission is free!

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is located at 60 Columbine Lane, Cedar Crest. Take exit 175 from
I-40 East, along NM 14 / The Turquoise Trail. Get directions to the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

–Tania

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Jemez Mountains Elk Festival: Oct 6 – 14

October 3, 2012 by  
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What do elk and balloons have in common? Absolutely nothing. One is light and airy and up in the sky, the other is heavy, makes loud trumpeting noises, and is very earth-bound. (Unless you know different and have seen flying elk. In New Mexico, anything is possible.)

The only thing to connect elk and balloons is that they each have festivals to celebrate them, taking place at the same time. As Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta launches its 2012 edition from October 6 – 14, the Jemez Mountains Elk Festival stampedes alongside, also from October 6 – 14.

The Jemez Mountains Elk Festival is hosted by the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Many elements of the Elk Festival are free, including daily demos, activities and booths at the Valles Caldera Visitor Center, free self-guided hikes, find out how antlers grow, and spotting scopes on the trails to see the elk herd in the Valle Grande. There’s an atlatl shootout on October 14!

Other festival activities require fees.  For example, the Magma to Magpies guided tours of the Valdera cost $3 during the festival, discounted from the usual $5. The tours happen several times a day, and you’re taken in a van to the historic ranch headquarters area.

I drove through the Valles Caldera National Preserve a few weekends ago and was reminded just how beautiful this area is, inside an old volcano crater.

However, I do wish they’d make it a little easier to find out what’s going on where and when at the Elk Festival. The best thing I can do is give you some links to see what’s happening on whichever day you want to visit from October 6 – 14.

I love seeing the magnificent elk in the wild, and the festival could make a cool day trip if you need a break from Balloon Fiesta madness, or as an excursion for visiting friends and family.

The Jemez Mountains Elk Festival is hosted by the Valles Caldera National Preserve. They reckon it’s about 2 to 2.5 hours drive from Albuquerque’s Big-I intersection of I-25 and I-40, but I’m sure I’ve driven it on the faster side of that.  (Or maybe it was just such a lovely drive I didn’t notice the time fly.) See directions to the Valles Caldera preserve via Jemez Springs.

–Tania

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I WISH YOU A GOOD LIFE.